New Jersey officials will fire nine employees responsible for supervising a home where four adopted boys were allegedly starved by a couple, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Officials vowed to reassess the safety of nearly half of more than 14,000 foster children in the state system who had been visited in recent months. The state “has failed to protect children,” said Gwendolyn L. Harris, commissioner of the state Department of Human Services.
The 6,400 cases to be reexamined include 1,400 children managed by the state adoption office in Voorhees, which was working with the couple, Raymond Jackson, 50, and Vanessa Jackson, 48. They were arrested Friday and charged with four counts of aggravated assault and 14 counts of endangering the welfare of children.
The Jacksons are accused of starving four brothers, ages 9 to 19, and then feeding them only uncooked pancake batter and cereal. The oldest was discovered this month weighing 45 pounds and measuring 4 feet tall. “Thirty years in this field, I have never seen anything like this,” said state official Edward E. Cotton.
The child-welfare agency has been plagued by case after case of abuse gone undetected or unaddressed, the Inquirer says. This summer the state settled a lawsuit brought by child-advocacy group Children’s Rights Inc. The state agreed to overhaul the system. The move to settle gained momentum after the January death in Newark of a seven year old boy who had been a subject of neglect and abuse, but whose case had been closed by the state without a caseworker visiting.